We have a fantastic line up of speakers for you at this year’s Solace Summit. In the run-up to the Summit, we will be adding to the speaker line-up, so be sure come back and check for updates.


Martin Swales

Chief Executive, South Tyneside Council & Solace President

As President of Solace, Martin provides national leadership, representing the sector across all configurations of Local Government.  His focus as President is to create the right platform, conditions and relationships for the sector to emerge stronger and more sustainable.  Prior to becoming President, Martin served as Solace Spokesperson for Economic Development and Housing for six years.


Martin has been Chief Executive of South Tyneside MBC for ten years.  South Tyneside is a recognised ‘high performing Council with many outstanding features’ (LGA Corporate Peer Challenge, 2017).  Children’s Services are judged by Ofsted as ‘Good’, with an ‘Outstanding’ Adoption Service.  South Tyneside’s ‘whole-systems partnership approach’ to Health and Social Care is nationally recognised and part of ongoing work with The King’s Fund.


Martin holds additional Leadership Roles as: Head of Paid Service for the North East Combined Authority; one of nine Chief Executive’s working with Government on ‘Brexit’; Lead Chief Executive for Newcastle International Airport and the £9bn Tyne and Wear Local Government Pension Fund.

Gavin Jones

Chief Executive, Essex County Council & Solace Chair

Gavin has been a local authority CEO for over 12 years, initially at Swindon and for the last 3 ½ years at Essex County Council.

The first half of Gavin’ career was in a variety of private organisations and market sectors. In 2004 he left SITA International (Airline telecommunications company) serving as Vice President Marketing and Customer Services, to join Swindon Borough Council, his home town.
Gavin was listed as one of the top 50 New Radicals in the Sunday Observer’s national campaign for Britain’s most innovative leaders and voted one of the most influential leaders in Local Government. Gavin is Chair of SOLACE Group.

Gavin is passionate about change in the local government, bringing together stakeholders and partner organisations to develop relationships at the local, regional and national levels in order to deliver a transformed service provision. Gavin is enthusiastic about embracing the business benefits of diversity and using these to the advantage of leading the organisation

Ian Reid

Chief Executive Officer, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee

Ian is the Chief Executive Officer for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and for the last twelve months has been overseeing the establishment of the Organising Committee and early stages of planning and delivery of the city and the region’s largest-ever cultural and sporting event.

He brings a wealth of Games, finance and commercial experience to this role, having served as Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games from 2009 to 2015, leading the Corporate Services and Support Functions including finance, legal, procurement, HR, programme management and office management. The event procured almost £250m of goods and services, recruited 1,500 staff and exceeded attendance and commercial targets.

Ian’s previous roles include Head of Commercial Finance for AG Barr plc and Chief Financial Planner for the Glasgow Housing Association, Europe’s largest landlord, owning 70,000 homes as part of a 30-year investment programme of £1.9bn.

Nick Page

Chief Executive, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council

Nick began his teaching career in London in 1990.  Following two promoted posts in London, Nick moved to the North West.

Nick left Salford in June 2014 as the Acting Head of Paid Services alongside his Strategic Director for Children’s Services role; to take up the post of Chief Executive of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

Nick led for the Shadow WMCA; Public Sector Reform, working with colleagues from across public agencies to reshape key aspects of the public sector such as skills and employment, criminal justice and the approach to mental health. He is the lead CEO for the productivity and skills focus for the WMCA.

Nick was lead local government representative for the WMFRS (West Midlands Fire Service) Peer Review and has been the lead CEO on other Peer Reviews.

He also led a learning lessons review at the request of another Local Authority LSCB (Local Safeguarding Children Board) which was of national significance.

Nick is the lead Chief Executive and Chair for ‘Preventing Violence against Vulnerable People (PVVP)’ for the West Midlands, which is moving into a joint partnership with the PCC, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Public Health England and WM Police.

Nick is leading the design and roll out for an inclusive growth corridor linking communities to opportunities in terms of employment and health. This provides a lens for the BSOL STP and WMCA to align strategy to maximum effect.

Nick is supporting MHCLG in terms of Brexit planning for the West Midlands, alongside another 8 national colleague CEOs and the LGA.

Martin Reeves

Chief Executive, Coventry City Council

Martin has been Chief Executive of Coventry City Council since April 2009.  He was the Chief Executive and the Head of Paid Service of the West Midlands Combined Authority from March 2016 to September 2017.  He had previously been with Bedfordshire County Council for three and a half years as Assistant Chief Executive and Chief Executive.

Martin was previously Head of Performance Improvement at Westminster City Council in the heart of London. He was also Programme Director for WorkSmart the City Council’s flagship transformation programme.

Martin spent much of his early career as a lecturer and researcher, and has a PhD in applied economics.

He is a Professor (University Advisory Panel) at Coventry University; is the first Honorary President of LARIA (Local Authorities Research and Intelligence Association) and on the board of the Centre for Cities.

He was the President of SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives) in 2013, and is currently its national spokesperson on local government finance and future funding.

He is the Local Government Association (LGA) National Procurement Champion.

In 2015, Martin was invited onto the independent taskforce, which produced the new 5-year national cancer strategy.

He chairs the national cross-system board for sustainable health & social care.

He is also a member of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Advisory Board.

Recently, Martin was once again included in the top 50 of the Local Government Chronicle’s list of most influential people in local government.

Professor Paul Johnson CBE

Director, Institute of Fiscal Studies

Paul has been director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies since January 2011.

Paul has previously worked at the FSA and has been chief economist at the Department for Education and director of public spending in HM Treasury as well as deputy head of the UK Government Economic Service.

A visiting professor at UCL, Paul has published and broadcast extensively on the economics of public policy including tax, welfare, inequality and poverty, pensions, education, climate change and public finances, and he is author of major books on pensions, tax and inequality as well as a co-author of the “Mirrlees review” of tax system design.

Paul is currently a member of the Climate Change Committee, member of the banking standards board. He has previously served on the council of the Economic and Social Research Council. He was a founder council member of the Pensions Policy Institute. He has led reviews of the policy of auto-enrolment into pensions for the DWP and of price statistics for the UKSA.

Hilary Cottam

Hilary is an internationally acclaimed social entrepreneur/designer whose work in communities around the world has focused on collaborative and affordable solutions to some of the greatest social challenges of our time. Recent innovations include a new service to support employment in a time of digital change, a new community model to support a good old age and new approaches to support those living with chronic illness. Transformation is achieved through a model that emphasises human relationships supported by technology.

Hilary’s current work focuses on the need for a ‘fifth social revolution’: bringing about the systemic change we need in this century as work, society and our economies go through deep structural change.

Hilary’s book Radical Help on the future of welfare was published in June 2018 by Little BrownUK. Her TED talk on the future of social systems has had over 700,000 views and can be found here http://bit.ly/1M7zQV8

Hilary was educated at Oxford, Sussex and the Open University. She holds a PhD in social sciences. Hilary has been recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and was named UK Designer of the Year in 2005 for her pioneering work in social design.

Hilary’s Twitter handle is @HilaryCottam

Joanna Killian

Chief Executive, Surrey County Council

Joanna started as Chief Executive of Surrey County Council in March 2018.

Prior to this, Joanna worked at KPMG, where she led relationships with local and regional government, advising clients on how they could transform their organisations, and work more innovatively with their customers and citizens.

Joanna and her teams worked on some innovative devolution and public service reform programmes in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and in the South West. Joanna worked with top teams to rethink their strategic ambition and agree new approaches to address the challenges and opportunities that the public sector faces, including with a county council, as well as a group of health organisations.

Joanna has more than 30 years’ experience in the public sector and has deep experience in delivering transformational change, cost reduction and service improvement. She has expertise in achieving improved outcomes through partnerships as well as across public sector systems. She has worked on leadership, governance and corporate reform programmes and is skilled in working in complex political systems.

Joanna joined KPMG in 2015 from Essex County Council, where she was the Chief Executive for nearly 9 years. She is known for her innovative approach to public sector reform and as CEO she implemented, for example, the first social impact bond in local government; developed a community budgets approach to public service delivery; as well as designing creative models to achieve community resilience and social value.

Joanna started her career in social housing and regeneration- she has deep knowledge and expertise in these fields.

Melanie Dawes

Permanent Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government

Melanie Dawes took up her role as Permanent Secretary for DCLG on 1 March 2015. She continued this role for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) from 8 January 2018. She is also Diversity and Inclusion Champion for the Civil Service and sits on the Civil Service Board and Senior Leadership Committee.

Melanie was Director General of the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat (EDS) at the Cabinet Office from October 2011, responsible for overseeing the system of Cabinet decision-making.

Between 2006 and 2011 she was at HMRC, including as one of the department’s Commissioners. She was Director General for Business Tax from November 2007, which involved responsibility for all the business taxes and duties as well as leadership of the department’s relationships with big business. From 2009, she also led the development of HMRC’s overall strategy as a department.

Before joining HMRC, Melanie spent 15 years at the Treasury, including as Europe Director from 2002 to 2006. She started her career as an economist and has worked on public spending, tax and tax credit policy, macroeconomics, monetary policy and the euro.

Mark Lloyd

Chief Executive, Local Government Association


Mark Lloyd became Chief Executive of the Local Government Association in November 2015.  He brought to the LGA ten years’ experience as a Council Chief Executive (Cambridgeshire County Council from 2008 and Durham County Council from 2005).


Dominic Campbell

Chief Executive, FutureGov

Dominic is a digital government entrepreneur with a background in organisation design and digital transformation. Having spent 5 years implementing large change initiatives within local government, Dominic founded FutureGov in 2008 to bring human-centred design and digital technology into the heart of public sector transformation programmes.

Major projects include; large-scale reinventions of Children’s Social Care technology and practice with west London authorities; working with senior management and politicians in Essex County Council to design and deliver a multi-year digital transformation programme; and leading the organisational redesign of Homes England as interim Chief Digital Officer, to help better equip it with the tools, capabilities and behaviours needed to position them as an exemplar of public sector organisations in the 21st century.

He regularly advises all levels of government internationally, across the USA, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. Dominic has taught at a range of business schools, including Harvard’s Kennedy School, USA; INSEAD, France; and IMD, Switzerland.

Aisling Conlon

Insight & Service Design Lead, Connected Places Catapult

Aisling leads our Insight and Service Design Team at Connected Places Catapult working at the intersection between Insight and Service Design. Her work is focused on helping our clients develop, test, and refine new concepts for city-based products and services. She achieves this by designing mixed methods research packages, applying her significant previous experience in designing services for large scale, long-term government contracts.

Geoffrey Stevens

Urban Technology Team Lead, Connected Places Catapult 

Geoffrey works to deploy innovative products and services that demonstrate how IoT and other technologies can address urban challenges. Working between infrastructure, innovation and new technology he specialises in sustainability, integrated systems, buildings, digital twins and sensing. Before joining the Future Cities, Catapult Geoffrey worked for the Energy Saving Trust leading on smart energy grids, digital consumer product development and new energy technologies.

Jo Broadwood

Chief Executive, Cohesion and Integration Network.

Jo joined the Cohesion and Integration Network as CEO in February 2019. Previously, Jo was CEO of StreetDoctors where she grew a UK wide healthcare volunteering movement advocating for a public health approach to address youth violence. Jo is an experienced third sector senior leader and has designed and developed a number of award-winning programmes to tackle prejudice and hatred and to build a social peace. Jo was a Community Cohesion advisor for the Department of Communities and Local Government supporting local areas to reduce community  tensions and improve good relations. Her background is in conflict transformation and mediation.

Robin Tuddenham

Chief Executive, Calderdale Council

Robin was appointed Chief Executive at Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire in June 2017. He is responsible for leading the Council’s workforce, and supporting system leadership in the place with public, private and voluntary sector leaders to shape the future direction of the Council and Calderdale as a borough. He is lead Chief Executive for Yorkshire and Humber for Cohesion and Migration issues, and has been Solace Deputy Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing since October 2018. Robin has worked since 2001 in senior roles in local government. Robin is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Trustee of COIN and the Lankelly Chase Foundation.

Joanne Roney

Chief Executive, Manchester City Council 

Joanne has been the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council since April 2017. She was previously chief executive of Wakefield Metropolitan Borough Council, where she held the top post from 2008.

Her career started in local government as an apprentice with Birmingham City Council at 16 and has a strong track record in transforming public services and delivering major regeneration initiatives such as the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield and Parkhill Housing in Sheffield. Joanne has also previously worked as Director of Housing at Kirklees Council and Executive Director with responsibility for housing, communities and adult care services at Sheffield City Council. She has a long standing career in housing and local government and is a Fellow of CIH and a regular contributor to Inside Housing.

Joanne is a Trustee of the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, established in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack, to provide financial support to victims and families affected.

Joanne was awarded the OBE for services to local government in 2009.

Jacqui McKinlay

Chief Executive, Centre for Public Scrutiny

Jacqui McKinlay is chief executive of the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS), the national centre of expertise on governance and scrutiny. CfPS promotes good governance working with organisations and leaders as they aim to be more transparent, accountable, involve others in decision-making and be open to scrutiny. For over fifteen years, CfPS have worked to achieve this through research, policy development, campaigning, consultancy and training.

Jacqui oversees CfPS’ work with a wide range of organisations in sectors including local and national government, health, housing, police and the private sector. Passionate about improving outcomes through better governance, CfPS led the governance review of Kensington and Chelsea Council as part of their response to the Grenfell Tragedy and is currently working with the housing sector as it seeks to resets the relationship between landlords and tenants. She is also a proud Trustee of The Advocacy Project. Prior to CfPS, Jacqui was Director of Strategy and Customer Services at Staffordshire County Council and has worked in health, sport and the civil service.


Trudy Birtwell

Head of Leadership and Organisational Development, Solace

Trudy has been Head of Leadership and Organisational Development at Solace since 2011. She leads and manages a range of successful programmes and assignments and is quick to establish effective and successful working relationships with clients to understand their requirements and to co design and provide appropriate solutions that deliver added value. She leads their partnership work with MHCLG, LGA, INLOGOV, Collaborate and PPMA. Key areas of responsibility include:


  • Solace Ignite programme
  • Total Leadership
  • Springboard
  • National Graduate and Apprenticeship programmes


A professional HR/OD practitioner with over 20 years’ experience of working at board and executive level. A strong leader able to inspire and motivate individuals and multi­disciplinary teams. A passion and enthusiasm for getting the best out of people and teams borne through highly developed emotional intelligence. A successful change manager having managed complex change programmes that have transformed the way people work. Trudy has worked extensively in a multi-agency context to develop partnership and collaborative approaches that deliver improved outcomes for people and places. A former Director at the Homes and Communities Agency, she was responsible for leading their external skills and capacity building offer,regularly engaging with senior colleagues from across the housing and regeneration sector. A Chartered Fellow of CIPD, Trudy has a professional background in leadership and organisational development specialising in supporting teams and individuals through change and transition. She is a qualified business and executive coach.

Karen Graves

PPMA President for 2018/2020 

Karen has worked in HR and OD in public and private sectors in a career spanning more years than she cares to remember.  She is passionate about public services, believing that well run public services are critical to how well our society runs.  For her, workforce is at the heart of everything public servants do.  Whilst technology, policy and processes have a huge role to play, none of this matters without engaged, committed, passionate and productive workforces.  She is committed during her term to continuing with ongoing PPMA work to raise and develop our collective professional voice so that every decision taken about the what, why and how of public services harness the inherent passion, creativity, innovation and commitment of the broader public service workforce.

Steve Thorn

Executive Director at Civica

Previously President at CGI UK, Steve brings significant breadth and depth of experience in business leadership, IT delivery, business transformation and operations, with previous roles at IBM and in the Royal Navy. Steve now spearheads the expansion of Civica’s design, build and management of a new generation of high-value digital services to customers as they accelerate their digital transformation.

Guy Clifton

Local Government Markets Director, Grant Thornton UK LLP

A CIPFA qualified accountant and Fellow of the Institute, who started his local government career in 1990, Guy joined Grant Thornton in 2007 where he has held a number of senior consulting and advisory roles, including four years as Head of Local Government Advisory.  Before joining Grant Thornton he was a Managing Consultant within RSM Robson Rhodes public sector advisory practice for 5 years. Prior to this he spent 12 years in local government holding a number of operational roles, including Head of Finance of a London Borough. Guy currently leads our market engagement with local government and manages key intermediary body relationships, such as Solace, CIPFA and the LGA.

Phillip Woolley

Partner, Grant Thornton UK LLP

Phil has been a partner at Grant Thornton for over 10 years and leads the firm’s Public Services Insights and Consulting practice. His team has developed a market-leading portfolio of public service insight and data analytics platforms, to support clients in driving improvement in public service delivery, and to underpin the team’s consulting and advisory methodologies. Phil has been working in public services for 25 years and in that time had the opportunity to work on projects of national and international significance, covering economic development, major regeneration and development, and financial management. His team’s current focus speaks to public service priorities of Financial Sustainability; Demand Led Services; and Inclusive Growth.

Andy Howell

General Manager, Slough Urban Renewal

Andy is the General Manager for Morgan Sindall Investment’s Slough Urban Renewal (SUR) JV with Slough Borough Council and for the last 3 years been working alongside the Partnership’s board and wider stakeholders to plan and deliver the overall strategic vision. In this time, the JV has delivered 18 projects including major new leisure facilities, 6 school extensions and over 260 new homes for local people. Recent successes have been starting construction on SUR’s largest commercial development so far; 2 Marriott International Hotels, 64 apartments and ground floor retail units. This is combined with a pipeline of regeneration projects planned for the next 5 years to deliver a further 500 new homes on key regeneration sites.

Andy is managing a development management team and continuing to drive the success of the partnership so that collectively it delivers benefits for all those who live and work in the town. Andy has a broad portfolio of property development experience and has previously assisted clients in a strategic advisory role, developing best practice and directing multiple development activities.



Andrew Savege

Director of New Partnerships, Morgan Sindall Investments

Andrew is a member of the Executive Management Board at Morgan Sindall Investments. He leads partnership work winning, with a focus on joint venture property partnerships. He is a Chartered Surveyor with over 25 years’ experience of property development across a number of sectors including student accommodation, hotels, offices, housing, retail food and drink, education and health. He chairs the board of Chalkdene Developments, Morgan Sindall Investments’ JV partnership with Herts Living Ltd (Hertfordshire County Council’s wholly owned property company).

Stephen Baker

Chief Executive of East Suffolk Council

Stephen Baker is Chief Executive of East Suffolk Council, a new ‘super district council’ created from the former Suffolk Coastal and Waveney Councils in April 2019.

Stephen was one of the original members of the Local Government Association’s ‘Shared Chief Executives’ Network’ when he became Chief Executive of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney in 2008.  Over 10 years, the two Councils worked in partnership to achieve efficiencies of over £22.5m and a fully integrated workforce.

As a natural progression in this innovative and long standing partnership, Stephen oversaw the creation of the largest district council in the country, serving 250,000 people and spanning almost 500 sq miles.  This powerful and influential local authority delivers services for communities from Lowestoft in the north to Felixstowe in the south.

Dr Andrew Larner

Chief Executive of iESE

With more than 25 years’ experience in improving public services, not just in the UK but internationally – with a breadth of experience working with local authority models around the world.

Andrew has led the development of digital solutions for public service around the world. He supported authorities in China to modernise their planning systems during rapid change, while in Hungary he supported the development of legislation and IT systems to manage a burgeoning property market. In the UK he developed the data standard that underpin the integration of public sector data and the first service to use them connecting every local authority in England and Wales with the HM Land Registry and many other central government information sources.

He supported the funding and development of local governments first eLearning platform and the first eProcurement portal. As such, he has probably got a wider view of the use digital to underpin new ways of working in local government.

During the past 15 years he has led the growth of iESE from a small social enterprise start-up to the sector’s leading transformation partner – working with hundreds of authorities around the UK, and supporting the delivery of more than £1billion in savings.

John Comber

Non-Executive Director of Solace, Chair of  Solace in Business and Associate for iESE

John began his career in the insurance industry and then moved into local government where over the last 35 years he has acquired experience in all aspects of the industry. Having spent the last 21 years at the Royal Borough of Greenwich, he has held a number of senior roles including, Chief Executive; Deputy Chief Executive; Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills; Director of Human Resources and Organisational Improvement; Director of E-Government and Change Management.

John has also been a Director of two companies, an advising Chief Executive to the London Council’s Capital Ambition Board, a lead peer for the Local Government Association’s peer challenge process and a member of their Advanced Commercialisation Group.

John retired from his role as Chief Executive of the Royal Borough of Greenwich in August 2017.

John is a Non-Executive Director of Solace and Chair of the Board of the Society’s commercial arm, ‘Solace in Business’, delivering recruitment, interim and consultancy services to the public sector and beyond, and is an Associate for iESE, previously one of the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships, which in 2012 became a social enterprise, made up of members and directors in local authorities across the UK, with the objective of identifying, fostering and delivering improvements and efficiencies across the public sector.

Nick Walkley

Nick Walkley, Chief Executive Officer, Homes England


Nick is the Chief Executive of Homes England, having become Chief Executive of its predecessor, the Homes and Communities Agency, in March 2017. Since Homes England launched in January 2018, Nick has led the organisation through significant change, focused on disrupting the housing market, accelerating the supply of new homes and improving affordability. In October 2018, Homes England published a bold five-year plan setting out the reformed agency’s new mission and strategic objectives to get more homes built.


Recent highlights include a £12 million deal with Kier to build more than 5,000 new homes over five years; a partnership with Barclays bank to provide £1 billion of loan finance to SME developers; the acquisition of a 3,000 home site in Burgess Hill, Sussex; and forming strategic partnerships with housing associations to develop affordable housing across the country.


Nick has previously been Chief Executive of both Haringey and Barnet Councils, and has been listed in Local Government Chronicle and Inside Housing’s Most Influential lists.

Ashley Kensington

Managing Director, St Joseph, Berkeley Group

Ashley was appointed Managing Director of St Joseph in May 2019. St Joseph is Berkeley Group’s newest division and with an aim of developing residentially led mixed use developments in the West Midlands. Ashley joined the Berkeley Group in 2000 and has held various posts in St James, Berkeley Commercial and St William. Ashley’s previous roles with the Group have been focused on property acquisition and securing planning permission on sites acquired in London and the Southeast.


Peter Andrew MBE

Peter Andrew, MBE – Deputy Chairman, HBF

Peter Andrew is deputy chairman of HBF and has a wealth of industry experience and an in-depth understanding of the issues affecting house builders.


Peter started life as a trainee QS at George Wimpey and during a career spanning 40 years progressed to become the UK Land and Planning Director – and a board member – at national housebuilder Taylor Wimpey UK. He was also one of the four practitioners who helped draft the National Planning Policy Framework for then Planning Minister Greg Clark.


He was awarded an MBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours for ‘services to construction’ in recognition for this work.


Peter is also a Council member of the NHBC, Chairman of Burrington Estates – a West Country developer, Chairman of IT company Rummage 4 and director of Dorchester Group – a housing and Place-making company.

Euan Mills

Head of Digital Planning, Connected Places Catapult

Euan Mills is the Head of Digital Planning at Connected Places Catapult where he co-leads a programme of work looking at how new technology can help us plan cities better.  Prior to this he spent 16 years working in the built environment industry. Six of these were spent providing design advice to the Mayor of London and his planning team, contributing towards a number of key planning policy and research documents and negotiating major development proposals on behalf of the Mayor. Prior to his time at City Hall he worked as an urban designer at Urban Initiatives, developing masterplans and design codes; and East Architects working on public realm and regeneration strategies. He also set up the Chatsworth Road Neighbourhood Forum and is a visiting lecturer at a number of universities and has written articles and spoken at conferences on the impact of technology on cities.

Stefan Webb

Director of Digitising Planning, Connected Places Catapult

Stefan leads the design, development and delivery of projects across the Connected Places Catapult. Stefan leads the Future of Planning programme, which has researched the key challenges in the UK planning system, supporting innovative SMEs to bring new products to market and advised MHCLG on what a digital planning system may look like.  He has developed the case for data devolution to Bristol, as well as leading the review of the Smart Dubai strategy.  Stefan has degrees in Sociology, Politics and Government, and Urban Regeneration. Before joining the Future Cities Catapult he worked for different local authorities, including the Greater London Authority where he worked on spatial policy and strategy for the Thames Gateway and Olympic Legacy development.

Alix Bedford

Public Services Segment Manager, Zurich Municipal

Alix Bedford is a strategic risk professional with over 16 years’ experience working both with and within the public sector. Alix’s current role sees her using these skills to manage the Public Services segment within Zurich Municipal, while continuing to provide and commission strategic risk management solutions including risk insight, training and coaching. Alix started her career as a Strategic Risk Consultant before spending 7 years as the lead officer for risk and performance management at a Unitary Local Authority. Alix has experience in a variety of fields including policy development, corporate planning, performance management, programme and project management and business resilience. Alix is a member of the Institute of Risk Management and was their Certificate qualification student of the year for 2016.


Jim Gamble

Chief Executive Officer, Ineqe Group of Specialist Safeguarding Companies

Jim Gamble, is the CEO of the Ineqe Group of Specialist Safeguarding Companies and Independent Chair of several London based Safeguarding Children’s Boards, including the City of London and Hackney; the first to be judged outstanding by Ofsted. He is widely recognised as a global authority on safeguarding children and was the founding chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce; a former national policing lead for child protection and the architect and CEO of the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre. He has undertaken a number of significant reviews, including the Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust and most recently the Safeguarding Review of Oxfam GB.


Pepper is helping to transform social care & be generally awesome.  He is the first robot to be employed by a UK Council, bringing joy to people with dementia through reminiscence activities.  He has many of the skills and characteristics of a model social care employee. He perceives emotions and adapts his behaviour accordingly. He can dance to Gangnam Style and does a mean impression of R2D2. But Pepper’s not like any other member of staff – he’s a 120cm, 28kg humanoid robot.  The child-size robot that has proven to be popular among different demographics within the Borough. This includes people living with dementia. During visits to local care homes, residents with various stages of dementia can interact with Pepper.  With light-up eyes and movable arms, Pepper’s games, videos and music can be a beneficial source of stimulation. While there’s no desire for Pepper to ever replace personal one-to-one services, the team at the Council were keen to see how people with dementia would take to Pepper – sparking imaginations and kick-starting the debate about robotics within social services.


Rob Francis

Associate Director, Head of Local Government & Head of Organisational Development

Rob has worked at Traverse (formerly OPM) for over a decade, leading research, community engagement, evaluation and development programmes for councils, CCGs and charities across the country. Since his publication ‘Unlocking Local Capacity’ in 2012, his work has focused on helping councils and local partnerships to tap into the skills, ideas and energy in their staff and citizens to improve places. His work in Southend on Sea has supported local people to shape a borough-wide vision for 2050, and elsewhere he is designing deliberative engagement programmes which directly involve citizens in decision making on complex topics, including the future of social housing and climate change.

Outside of work, Rob chairs two community organisations, and his ‘Ideas Farm’ workshop six years ago sparked a campaign to reopen a cinema in his home town (which opened this year). You can read more about Rob’s work and find his recent and past articles and publications here: https://traverse.ltd/who-we-are/rob-francis

Twitter: @ThinkingRob

Tim Roberts-Holmes

Vice President – Health, Local Government & Policing

Tim has been at CGI since 2013 working in the Health, Local Government and Policing sectors. Prior to that, Tim has 25 years’ industry experience where his key strengths included defining and implementing market entry strategies and driving growth.

Tim has a strong C-level network across the Public Sector where he has been focussed on driving change, most recently in transforming the delivery of Public Services and leveraging the opportunities to enable digital adoption through the deployment of 5G infrastructure, particularly in regional and local government.

Carwyn Cook

Enterprise Architect – Local Government

Carwyn works with clients to understand their business challenges and help produce innovative solutions to address these. His current focus is on defining CGI’s propositions for UK local government clients.

His experience has been gained through IT and business consulting with clients in a range of industries over the course of 25 years, and encompasses the full delivery lifecycle along with commercial and business change aspects of successful programme delivery.

Tom Adams

Senior Solution Architect

Tom is a highly experienced solution architect with a wide range of healthcare and IT experience. He has an excellent technical background in architectural planning, software design and development, integration and interoperability, mobile solutions, third party procurement and project management through the entire project life cycle. He has extensive experience of engaging with senior clinical and management staff to understand requirements and translate these into effective solutions. Tom has designed and delivered enterprise architectures that integrate a wide range of systems to support clinical and business workflows. Tom is currently focusing on technology enabled care solutions for a range of health and social care clients.

Fiona Lees

Chief Executive, East Ayrshire Council

Fiona Lees is Chief Executive of East Ayrshire Council, a post she has held since April 2004.

Fiona has over 40 years’ service in local government, beginning her working life as a Community Worker for the then Strathclyde Regional Council.  She held a wide range of posts in support of community regeneration in communities throughout the west of Scotland before becoming East Ayrshire Council’s Depute Chief Executive at the inception of the new Council in 1995.

Fiona came into public service to try and make a difference to people’s lives and still holds true to this principle today.

Joyce Redfearn

Solace Associate

Joyce has 17 years’ experience as a Chief Executive, successfully leading three authorities, Wigan, Gloucestershire County Council and Monmouthshire. She has been focused on development of the culture and conditions which improve outcomes for citizens and staff. She believes in building strong working relationships and was eventually in the dual role as chief executive of the PCT and local authority in Wigan.

She has long standing leadership development, facilitation and coaching skills. She facilitates a range of leadership programmes including:Total Leadership, senior leadership development programme; New Chief Executive Briefings;  Aspiring to be a Chief Executive  and is part of the delivery team for the Local Government Graduates Development programme.

Joyce is interested in system change, community engagement and good governance working throughout the UK and in Jordan and Egypt. She has been working with many places on system leadership skills mainly based on the integration of health and social care. She has been Independent Chair of improvement and transformation boards.  She worked for the Department of Health and the LGA on the development of Health and Wellbeing Boards.  She is currently an assessor to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Liz McQue

Liz  has significant experience in public services and is passionate about improving public services and outcomes for people and communities.  Most recently working at Chief Executive level for over 10  years  supporting  public  service  organisations  and  representing the  interests  of  local  authorities  as  employers.

Liz’s focus is on supporting leadership and organisational change and she has extensive experience in  working with individual organisations. Key roles have included supporting Leaders and  senior  councillors with  chief  executive  appraisals, facilitating development sessions for cabinets and senior officer  teams  focussing  on developing  strong  relationships  and strategic direction. Current projects include working with Birmingham University, LGA, Solace and PPMA to develop a support package for authorities working with 21st Century Public Servant framework.

Liz’s experience and  expertise  has  been  recognised  by  national  organisations  and  she has  served  on  several  high  profile  Improvement  Boards  set  up  to  address  key improvement  and  governance challenges  in 4  local  authorities.

Liz facilitates several national leadership programmes including LGA’s Leadership Academy for  senior  politicians and is Solace’s lead facilitator for their flagship Springboard programme.

Alastair Campbell

Alastair read modern languages at Cambridge but made money by writing pornographic stories for the men’s magazine Forum before entering journalism.

By the age of 29 he had moved a long way from his roots as the son of a Pennine vet to become the news editor of a newspaper called Today but the publication’s launch faltered and the experience led him to a nervous breakdown. He is said to have come out of the experience less brash, more disciplined and even more driven in his career. Around the same time he gave up alcohol – a step believed by many to give him the advantage of a clear head 24 hours a day to deal with the media.

He soon became political editor of the Daily Mirror. During this time he was also one of then Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s closest advisers. It was from that post which Mr Campbell resigned to become spokesman for Tony Blair, then leader of the opposition. He was heavily involved with the modernisation of the Labour party, and instrumental in many New Labour ideas such as All Women Shortlists. With the Labour election victory in 1997, he became the prime minister’s chief press secretary, setting up a formidable Whitehall machine to put over the government’s views and try to control the news agenda.

In 2000 Alastair gave up daily briefings to Westminster lobby journalists to concentrate more on long-term strategy. It was a move prompted by the fear that he, rather than his boss, was becoming the focus of media stories.  In 2003 he resigned from this post. A national theatre tour “An evening with Alastair Campbell” followed.

In July 2007, he published his first book ‘The Blair Years’ which was an instant Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller.  His first novel ‘All In The Mind’ appeared in 2008, to enthusiastic reviews for its frank examination of mental illness. His second novel ‘Maya,’ a gripping analysis of fame and the obsession it attracts, was published in 2010 and ‘The Happy Depressive’ in 2012.

His book on leadership ‘Winners: And How They Succeed’ (published 2016) examines how sports stars excel, entrepreneurs thrive, and individuals achieve their ambition.

His award-winning one hour documentary about his own breakdown in 1986 was broadcast on BBC2 in 2008. Both the film, ‘Cracking Up’ and his book ‘All In The Mind’, won considerable praise from mental health charities and campaign groups for helping to break down the taboo surrounding mental health. He received the Mind Champion of the Year award in May 2009 in recognition of his work to break down the stigma around mental illness, and continues to campaign on the issue.

Emma Head

Safety and Assurance Director, HS2 Ltd

Emma joined High Speed Two Ltd (HS2 Ltd) in August 2015, as a member of the Executive Committee with accountability for Health and Safety. Emma was responsible for leading the vision and direction for safety and security, setting the standard and expectations for health, safety, and security management and behaviours across the HS2 organisation, the programme and our supply chain.

Assuming the role of Safety and Assurance Director in May 2018, Emma is accountable for:

  • Strategy and approach to Safety, Health, Security, Environmental Management,
  • Acts as the Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO) with accountability for cyber and information security and compliance with GDPR.
  • Providing the quality management framework and business processes that form the company integrated management system, providing a clear control environment for all company operations.
  • Establishing and overseeing the assurance function, including programme assurance, monitoring compliance with and effectiveness of the control environment, commercial assurance, and managing relationships with government internal audit and other key external stakeholders.
  • Working as part of the Executive Committee, taking collective accountability for the effective operation of the company, for holding the Executive to account, and providing assurance to the HS2 Ltd Board that we have confidence in our control environment

Emma has worked in the UK railway industry since 1999 and was previously Director of Safety Strategy at Network Rail, where she delivered a step change in workforce and passenger safety performance, as well as being accountable for assuring the delivery of asset improvement programmes.  Emma has a wealth of experience from client and contractor perspectives, and has contributed to major railway engineering schemes, including West Coast route modernisation and London’s Crossrail project.

Before moving client side, Emma held various roles in large Tier 1 and 2 Contractors, working across the construction and rail sectors, and has led safety, quality, environmental and assurance functions delivering technical, system safety and business assurance.


Theresa Grant

Chief Executive Officer, Northamptonshire County Council 

Theresa is a career public servant with 41 years’ experience in Local Government in both Ireland and the UK. She has spent several of these years seconded to roles with the private sector and the Commonwealth Games Organisation.

Theresa is CEO at Northamptonshire County Council since July 2018. Prior to this, she was the CEO of Trafford MBC since 2011 and Accountable Officer for the CCG from April 2018, as well as Lead CEO for Employment & Skills portfolio for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) region, including the Working Well and Mental Health to Work schemes and DWP Health to Work programme. Theresa was also GMCA Lead for the GM Procurement Hub.

Theresa is an Ambassador of the Halle Orchestra based in Manchester.

Susan Parsonage

Chief Executive, Wokingham Council

Susan Parsonage has been Chief Executive for Wokingham Borough Council since April 2019 and is collaboratively setting the vision and strategic direction for the future, consolidating after much change and also driving a commercial council. Leading and working with officers and partners on setting shared ambitions and high performance, unlocking issues and celebrating what’s already been achieved.

Previously as Chief Executive of Lancaster City Council she focussed on turning vision into reality and led regeneration of the city and wider district increasing partnership working across sectors, in particular businesses & Lancaster University. Also led local authority modernisation and raised ambition. She made economic growth and place shaping priorities to make the most of what Lancaster had to offer, and facilitated with partners a strong narrative and new brand to raise the profile of the area.

Susan was previously Director of Safer Communities and Housing at the London Borough of Ealing, where she held a lead role in enhancing safety, regulation and overseeing the Council’s housing stock.  Whilst at Ealing she transformed services, maximising cross-organisational working and problem solving.  An approach which resulted in increased enforcement, crime reductions, and more effective tackling of anti-social behaviour and private sector housing issues at the same time as securing substantial efficiency savings.

Susan first started in local government in 1998, running a campaign for Chester Council raising awareness about violence against women and children.  She completed a law degree and master of philosophy as a mature student, starting her working career at BT.

Susan also held, until 2016, a Non-Executive Director role at Catalyst Housing and chaired a small housing association in Hackney taking forward a new development strategy.

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